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Old Bark, New Bite

Arsenio Hall sinks his teeth into a new late-night talk show.

Arsenio Hall

Remember the arm pump? The rabid woofing? Devotees of the old Arsenio Hall Show, which ran from 1989 to 1994, sure do. And they still pay tribute.

“It’s interesting in terms of psychology to watch a child see his dad get barked at in a mall and not know why,” notes Hall, whose son, the younger Arsenio, though not born during his father’s initial talk-show foray, will watch him re-enter the late-night landscape on Sept. 9.

Yes, that’s right, Arsenio Hall—Magic Johnson’s pal, the man who allowed then presidential hopeful Bill Clinton to play his sax during his time slot and once memorably declared he would “kick Jay Leno’s ass”—is set to unleash the Dog Pound.

Primed for a comeback, Hall spent the intervening years between The Arsenio Hall Show and its reboot raising his son, now 13, while taking on the occasional gig—fill-in host here, comedic appearance there, winning a season of Celebrity Apprentice—because, he explains, “You can’t really be a good mom or dad if you’re doing a late-night talk show. It’s a different level of commitment.” Now with his son at an age where he can handle his father’s need to be at work more regularly, Hall is ready for a full-fledged return.

Plus, “I’ve never found anything I love as much,” the native of Cleveland, Ohio, says of the late-night game.
“The bottom line is I do those things that I love to do. And I love doing a late-night talk show more than anything. I was missing it.”

Hall’s new syndicated show, airing locally on KTLA channel 5 at 11pm, means he’s rubbing elbows with ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, CBS’s David Letterman and NBC’s Jay Leno (who turns over The Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon in spring 2014) during the second halves of their shows. Expect roughly the same format tailored to a new era, but “the same guy”—only a little older.

Put another way: “The last time I hosted a talk show, I didn’t have a cellphone in my pocket,” he says.
“It’s a different world.”

Hall’s Hots
Dodger Stadium, Ojai, my smartphone

Hall’s Nots
The 405, helicopters, the city's lack of snow